There is not a single bar that does not have it: although it is not growing under the bar or between the tile joints, this weed is the second favorite infusion by the Spanish, both inside and outside the home, after chamomile, as indicated the consumption study of the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food. We are talking about pennyroyal-mint, one of the digestive herbal teas par excellence.
Considered a weed in different countries, including Spain, due to its great expansive and growth capacity, pennyroyal-mint is, in itself, a single plant. Despite its name and the confusion that some nomenclatures can generate, the pennyroyal-mint infusion does not contain two ingredients (pennyroyal and mint), but a single plant: pennyroyal-mint (Mentha pulegium), also called pennyroyal, mentastro or , simply, pennyroyal.
From the mint family, it grows everywhere, resists low temperatures, but does not tolerate too much lack of water. It can be collected all year round without danger, even during the flowering season, when purple flowers appear, and to collect it, it will only be necessary to cut the stems, which will be left to dry in bundles until the green of its leaves turns grey. However, it is in the leaves of pennyroyal-mint where the terpenes accumulate that endow the plant with different properties popularly considered medicinal, as well as an aromaticity also valued in perfumery.
The use of pennyroyal-mint infusions is ancient: the first written records date from the end of the 8th century, specifically, in a legislative text issued by Charlemagne in which the cultivation of pennyroyal-mint is ordered. At that time it was considered that pennyroyal-mint contributed to the erection and, the smoke from burning the plant, to repel insects such as fleas (from which part of its scientific name comes, 'pulegium') to this day, it is attribute digestive properties, since it facilitates the segregation of enzymes such as amylase, responsible for digestion, and carminatives, that is, it helps to expel gases. To date, the consumption of herbal teas has grown by 41.7% in Spanish homes compared to 2008.
From Orballo infusions they recommend infusing the pennyroyal at around 90-95ºC, that is, a couple of minutes after the water boils. It will suffice with 5 minutes of infusion, after which the pennyroyal must be removed. The manufacturer comments that although the plant is found in the Iberian Peninsula and can be cultivated, "we currently only have small plants. Most of this raw material comes from countries in the Balkans, the Caucasus or North Africa. We have tried to establish larger farms in the interior of Galicia (an ideal land for its cultivation), but as of now we do not have enough resources to support the development of this type of organic cultivation with investments.
Likewise, pennyroyal contains notable amounts of vitamin B1, B2 and B3, and its key active ingredients are menthol, pulegone and thujone, terpenes that in high doses are potentially toxic to the liver and kidneys. However, ingesting such quantities is impossible if it is taken as an infusion, since both the drying of the plant and the heat of the infusion partially degrade this molecule. Therefore, care should only be taken when ingesting the essential oil, where the concentration of terpenes is much higher. In the same way, and although it is traditionally considered an emmenagogue and regulator of menstruation, pregnant women are not advised to take it due to its presumed abortifacient properties. In addition, it is not recommended to take it if you are following a treatment with paracetamol.
On the other hand, growing it at home is easy: just plant, in a seedbed, a couple of the tiny seeds that contain its flowers in a little substrate, cover it with soil and water. In about two weeks, the plant will germinate and can preferably be relocated to a pot that contains its growth, since its expansive potential can damage other nearby plants if planted next to it.